Dell XPS thirteen evaluate

Dell XPS 13 review

You do not have to be a advertising skeptic to agree that “Ultrabook” is a considerably hyperbolic time period for a category of units designed slightly thinner, a bit lighter and perhaps somewhat faster than these notebooks which have come earlier than. From a pure hardware standpoint there’s nothing notably “extremely” about them when in comparison with a regular Wintel lappytop, however producers are, fortunately, utilizing this as a chance to boost their recreation on one other entrance that is turning into more and more essential on the earth of moveable computing: aesthetics.

In comparison with clunky laptops of yore, many Ultrabooks mark a very large step ahead on the subject of purity of design and Dell is displaying some spectacular chops with the brand new XPS thirteen. However, once you’re buckled in to teach class and it is time to get to work, appears are much less necessary than having a strong laptop computer that performs. Does the brand new XPS have the brawn to match its magnificence? Let’s discover out.

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Dell XPS thirteen evaluation

seventy four

Dell XPS thirteen


  • Pretty, refined design
  • Good efficiency
  • Highly effective audio system


  • No SD reader
  • Mediocre show
  • Unreliable touchpad


Dell’s XPS thirteen is among the greatest wanting Ultrabooks we have seen but, however is not essentially the perfect Ultrabook.

Feel and appear
Dell XPS 13 review

Proper out of the field it is clear Dell is making an attempt to make a press release with the brand new XPS thirteen. Easy, darkish, minimalist packaging accommodates the sliver of the laptop computer itself — and an sadly clunky energy brick. The forty five-watt adapter is smaller than many others Dell makes, however it’s outfitted with a fats, three-pronged energy cable that makes the factor take up an enormous quantity of area in your bag. If PC makers are going to get actually critical about going after Apple with slinky laptops, they will should provide you with some slinkier energy adapters to match.

Ignoring that bit of ordinary-concern fare, the XPS thirteen makes a terrific first impression. In case you’ve been following alongside, you will discover it dispenses with most of the gaudy elaborations that made the XPS 14z and 15z so polarizing, with solely the fingerprint-free metallic lid and pillowy keyboard tying all of it collectively. Its lid is of satiny aluminum with a sandblasted type of look, embossed within the center with a shiny, 1.5-inch Dell emblem. The underside, although, is much more alluring. Protected beneath a skinny rubberized coating is a carbon fiber development that feels implausible. You do not have to be a motorsports nut to understand the look of a high quality carbon weave, and with the tender-contact coating it creates a floor that is reassuringly straightforward to carry onto if you’re wandering across the workplace looking for your subsequent assembly.

That grippability is additional aided by a pair of rubber ft that run the width of the underside of the unit, one on the entrance and the again. These additionally do a fantastic job of retaining the laptop computer in place when typing furiously in stated assembly, elevating the factor barely in order that the ridge of air vents on the underside can do their factor. They usually appear to do their factor nicely. We by no means observed an excessively heat lap because of our Core i5-outfitted unit.

Dell XPS 13 review

That Dell took the time to design a metallic flap simply to cover ugly logos and stickers says rather a lot concerning the consideration to element right here.

Inset amid that pretty weave is one other little bit of brushed aluminum, a metallic plate with “XPS” menacingly current. (We expect this emblem would make for much extra fascinating lid decor than that considerably overly pleasant Dell circle with its quirky E.) Flip this flap open and hidden under is the ugly Home windows product key sticker together with about one million certification logos (FCC, and so on.). That Dell took the time to design this metallic cowl simply to cover all these ugly logos and stickers says so much concerning the consideration to element right here.

Attempt to open the laptop computer, although, and you will understand some additional consideration was wanted elsewhere. There is a considerably stiff hinge, which is not essentially an issue (you definitely do not have to fret about it separating by itself), however truly getting it open is usually a little bit of a problem. Stick a finger beneath the lip of the lid and, if you begin to carry, the laptop computer will begin to flip over earlier than opening. And that is not as a result of it is a notably mild little factor. In truth, at slightly below three kilos, it is truly fractionally heavier than the bodily bigger thirteen-inch MacBook Air.

Get it open and also you’re introduced with a backlit, island-type keyboard, black semi-gloss keys raised over a matte background and located above a equally darkish touchpad, energy button to the higher-left.

At 2.ninety nine kilos (1.36kg), the XPS thirteen in good firm among the many 2.ninety six-pound MacBook Air and the two.9-pound ASUS Zenbook UX31, although none of those are fairly as impossibly mild because the Toshiba Portege Z830, which weighs a mere 2.forty seven kilos. Definitely, Dell’s entry bests the HP Folio thirteen (three.three kilos), together with the thirteen-inch Samsung Collection 5 Ultrabook (three.5 kilos) and the untold variety of 14-inchers we’ll see this yr.

Out there ports are predictably restricted, however complete sufficient. On the left are a three.5mm headset jack, USB port and the facility enter. On the fitting is a USB port and a Mini DisplayPort, plus a collection of 5 little white LEDs that provides you with the battery’s present cost on the press of a button. And that is it. Dell went the best way of Lenovo and sadly opted to not embrace an SD card reader, which we might think about an oversight.

Keyboard and trackpad
Dell XPS 13 review

Following within the footsteps of the XPS 14z and 15z, the keys listed here are small however snug, feeling barely tall and springy however not overly so.There are not any devoted media keys at your disposal; the varied F keys doing double-obligation with the assistance of the Fn key nestled between Ctrl and the Home windows emblem key. All informed, it seems like a step up from the shallow ‘boards you will discover on so many different Ultrabooks, such because the UX31 and Acer Aspire S3.

After utilizing the keyboard for a number of days we discovered ourselves neither loving nor hating it, however we did lean towards the latter when it got here to the trackpad.

After utilizing the keyboard for a couple of days we discovered ourselves neither loving nor hating it, however we did lean towards the latter when it got here to the clickable trackpad. It too has a gentle-contact really feel to it, which makes it a bit sticky as you attempt to gesture. We might reside with that if it have been responsive sufficient. We cranked the sensitivity as excessive as we might within the Cypress TrackPad settings, which helped to a point, however it nonetheless felt unpredictable and unreliable.

We notably had points when clicking, because the slight motion of our fingertip when miserable the trackpad would trigger the cursor to leap. As an alternative of merely putting the textual content caret we might wind up highlighting a full row of textual content. This occurred time and again no matter how exact we tried to be.

Show and sound
Dell XPS 13 review

That is, once more, a thirteen-inch laptop computer. Whereas there are a number of decisions for processor and disk measurement there’s however one show on supply, a 1366 x 768 unit that manages to do larger than 720p, however not by a lot. It’s a sixteen:9 facet ratio show, so the panel itself is barely shorter and wider than that on the thirteen-inch MacBook Air, regardless of the XPS thirteen itself being barely narrower.

Sure certainly we now have some skinny bezels right here, however sadly we’re additionally speaking a few display that has a decrease pixel density than the 1600 x 900 panel on the $1,one hundred UX31. (The Air has a 1440 x 900 show, however you will pay $1,299 and up for the privilege.) It isn’t an enormous distinction, however particular person pixels are much more noticeable on the Dell.

The distinction of the show does not precisely impress both. Get completely on-middle and it is satisfactory, however stray various levels to both aspect and it shortly begins to fade. This can be a specific drawback if you’re wanting down from above, as you are more likely to be when sitting upright with this man in your lap. The hinge does not allow you to lay the display flat sufficient and also you’re typically be caught with a decidedly pasty picture.

The audio system are ok you can depart your Jambox at residence.

We have been, nevertheless, fairly impressed by the built-in audio system — surprisingly so. Even at average ranges the laptop computer simply crammed a lodge room with sufficient sound and, when cranked, managed to develop into uncomfortably loud. This won’t beat the standard of even mid-vary cans or earbuds, nevertheless it’s definitely ok which you could depart your Jambox at residence.

Dell XPS 13 review

Our base-spec XPS thirteen accommodates a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor with 4GB of RAM and we discovered it to be greater than satisfactory for common computing duties, together with scripting this very evaluation. It was fairly snappy and responsive navigating by means of Home windows, enjoying movies, listening to music and, normally, computing.

A chilly boot is accomplished in a really respectable 15 seconds and the system wakes from a sleep virtually immediately. A 3DMark rating of four,one hundred thirty places this within the larger finish in contrast with different Ultrabooks, although barely behind the UX31. We have been unable to get Vantage to execute efficiently.

PCMark Vantage 3DMark06 Dell XPS thirteen (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) N/A four,one hundred thirty HP Folio thirteen (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 6,701 three,387 Toshiba Portege Z835 (1.4GHz Core i3-2367M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 5,894 three,601 Lenovo IdeaPad U300s (1.8GHz Core i7-2677M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 9,939 three,651 ASUS Zenbook UX31 (1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 10,508 four,209 Acer Aspire S3 (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 5,367 three,221 thirteen-inch, 2011 MacBook Air (1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 9,484 four,223 2011 Samsung Collection 9 (1.7GHz Core i5-2537M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 7,582 2,240 Notes: the upper the rating the higher. For 3DMark06, the primary quantity displays rating with GPU off, the second with it on.

Battery life
Dell XPS 13 review

Our XPS thirteen and its six-cell, non-detachable battery soldiered by means of our commonplace battery rundown check of movies looping endlessly for a good 4 hours and fifty eight minutes earlier than succumbing to exhaustion. That is a half-hour longer than the final XPS we reviewed might handle, the XPS 15z, and a full two hours greater than 2010’s XPS 14. However, taking a look at a extra direct competitor, it lags about an hour behind what HP’s Folio thirteen managed on the identical check.

Laptop computer Battery Life Dell XPS thirteen four:fifty eight HP Folio thirteen 6:08 Toshiba Portege Z835 5:forty nine ASUS Zenbook UX31 5:forty one thirteen-inch, 2011 MacBook Air 5:32 (Mac OS X) / four:12 (Home windows) Lenovo IdeaPad U300s 5:08 Samsung Collection 9 four:20 Acer Aspire S3 four:eleven

In fact, your computing duties won’t entail merely looping movies endlessly, and certainly ours do not both. With the WiFi on and related and the display set to a average brightness we managed virtually six hours on a cost of sunshine net browsing and doc modifying. Lose the WiFi and you may certainly do properly higher, although we’re considering Dell’s estimate of eight hours and fifty three minutes is a bit optimistic for many utilization conditions.

Software program
Dell XPS 13 review

With earlier XPS fashions we have discovered ourselves shaking our heads as we scrolled via the Packages itemizing, however we’re comfortable to report Dell has stored issues respectably clear with the XPS thirteen.

It is exhausting to take a premium laptop computer significantly when it is continuously nagging with trialware pop-ups in your face. These annoyances set an enduring impression, and it is not an excellent one. With earlier XPS fashions we have discovered ourselves shaking our heads as we scrolled by way of the Packages itemizing, however we’re comfortable to report Dell has stored issues respectably clear with the XPS thirteen.

McAfee SecurityCenter is right here and doubtless probably the most nagging app that is pre-put in, prompting you to hop on-line and activate it. There’s additionally a strong complement of Dell purposes for controlling the webcam, creating restoration media and backing up the laptop computer. That too throws up an annoying pop-up after you boot, however it’s solely suggesting you create our restoration media, one thing that’s a good suggestion. The one slight complication is that, by default, the DataSafe app needs to write down that stuff to disc, one thing the XPS is sick-outfitted to do out of the field. Fortunately it will possibly additionally write to USB drives, ought to you’ve one large enough.

Configuration choices and the competitors

Dell XPS 13 review

On the within, once more, is an Intel Core i5-2467M processor clocked at 1.6GHz and paired with 4GB of RAM. Configured with a 128GB SSD this laptop computer would value you $999, a worth we think about fairly truthful. Nevertheless, step as much as the 256GB mannequin with a Core i7-2637M processor and also you’re taking a look at a considerably much less pockets-pleasant (although nonetheless truthful) $1,499.

That stated, each choices examine favorably to the competitors, at the very least that from Apple’s camp. Although larger-res, the thirteen-inch Air is available in at $300 larger than the $999 XPS thirteen and, for those who transfer as much as a 256GB SSD, you are taking a look at $1,599 — and that is nonetheless with a Core i5 processor. Nonetheless, uncooked specs aren’t every thing, and it is value taking into consideration that for $1,299 you get a thin laptop computer with a snug keyboard and dependable trackpad — a mixture we will not say we have present in any of the Home windows-based mostly Ultrabooks we have examined thus far.

Nevertheless, the bottom-finish of HP’s Folio thirteen Ultrabooks is available in at about $one hundred cheaper than the XPS thirteen, and begins with a Core i5 processor, 128GB SSD and show that suffers from the identical points because the XPS thirteen. Should you’re in search of the worth chief, at $900 that is nonetheless the one.

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Dell XPS thirteen vs. MacBook Air

At that tough $1,500 worth level the XPS thirteen sits about on par with the very best-finish Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, which additionally comes with 256GB of storage and a considerably disappointing show. (The U300s can also be lacking an SD reader, however it makes up for it considerably with a chic design and one of many extra ergonomically sound keyboards we have examined.) However, for those who’re on the lookout for one thing on this class with a genuinely good show, proper now it is nonetheless the $1,099-plus UX31 that is taking the cake — or, in fact, the Air. As all the time, although, we might be remiss if we did not remind you the UX31’s quick efficiency, wholesome battery life, beautiful design and excessive-res show all come on the expense of 1 sticky, shallow keyboard.


Dell XPS 13 review

From the second it comes out of the field the XPS thirteen seems and looks like a very premium product and, with a pleasant keyboard and respectable efficiency, it is a good machine to make use of, too. However, the show suffers the identical complaints we have seen with different Ultrabooks on this worth vary — middling decision, poor off-angle distinction — and the trackpad solely works properly when it feels prefer it.

It’s, then, one other strong selection on the sub-$1,000 worth level, however put aesthetics apart and we would not say it is universally higher than HP’s Folio thirteen, which is about $one hundred cheaper. It’s, nevertheless, higher wanting.

Dana Wollman contributed to this assessment.

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